4 Landmines of Hiring and How to Avoid Them

Originally published
Originally published: 10/1/2012

Snagging top talent requires ongoing effort and strategic planning.

In a recent survey of more than 100 CEOs and their key executives, the first question asked was, “Is hiring top talent critical to the success of your organization?” Not surprisingly, everyone replied, “Yes”.

The follow-up question was, “If it is critical, then how much time each month is spent focusing on hiring, excluding when you are actively looking to fill a position?” Not surprisingly, only three people responded positively.

Something this critical gets virtually zero time unless there is a current need.

Managers discuss other critical issues regularly during management meetings — strategies such as cost reductions, service development, increasing sales, and improving operational efficiencies. Yet few companies include a strategy for hiring the people needed to execute the plan as the company grows. How do you develop an ongoing hiring strategy?

Start with this: Companies that truly want to hire top talent and do it on a consistent basis must avoid these four landmines when hiring:

1) Untrained managers: This is the No. 1 reason hiring fails. Few managers are trained on how to hire. Most have never taken a course or read a book on hiring. The few who have had training usually have studied only interviewing. 

Granted, this is better than nothing, but interviewing is only one step in an effective hiring process. If you aren’t finding qualified candidates, all interviewing training will do is validate that candidates aren’t qualified. If a company is serious about improving hiring, step one is to develop an effective hiring process and then train their managers in all aspects of the process.

2) Poorly defined jobs: This mistake results in the search going sideways before it even starts. Traditional job descriptions for the most part aren’t job descriptions at all. Most describe a person and include lists of the basic duties, tasks, and responsibilities.

This traditional job description defines minimum qualifications, not the job. This is why the least-qualified person shows up at your door. Instead, start by defining superior performance or the results expected to be achieved once the person is on board. For example:
• Improve customer service feedback scores from X to Y.
• Reduce turnover from X% to Y% within the next 12 months.
• Implement a sales forecasting process that includes a rolling three-month forecast that is accurate within X% of actual sales.

3) Reactive hiring: Most companies start the hiring process too late. They wait until they absolutely need someone, then expect top talent will magically appear on the market, find them, be so compelled after reading the minimum job description to update their resume, and respond. Reactive hiring is a thing of the past. Hiring top talent requires proactive hiring.

This means your hiring managers must be in the market engaging people all the time, not only when hiring. They should be connecting with people on LinkedIn, involved in professional associations, and commit at least an hour or two a month to hiring. Few managers spend any time engaging potential candidates when they aren’t actively hiring.

In fact, many even discard resumes as they come in if they aren’t hiring.
Finding top talent doesn’t take a lot of time each month, but it does take a consistent monthly effort of an hour or two.

4) Disrespecting candidates: Top talent, especially those in no hurry to make a job change (often referred to as passive candidates), will walk away from a manager or company if they aren’t respected in the interviewing process. Some common complaints include:
The hiring manager being late for the interview. Few managers would accept it if the candidate is late, so why should it be okay for the manager?

  • Lack of preparation by the interviewer. Again, if the candidate came in unprepared would that be acceptable?
  • Taking calls during the interview.
  • Telling the candidate if they have any further questions to call and then ignoring the calls.

If managers don’t respect the candidate during the hiring process it isn’t going to get any better once they are hired. The interview is a PR event. These candidates will make sure others know how they were treated. Bad PR is never a good thing. This is an easy thing to fix. All it takes is treating candidates the same way you would treat a customer.

If your company is having hiring problems, taking a step back to review if any of these four mistakes hit home is the best place to start changing how your company hires. 

Brad Remillard is a speaker, author and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in hiring and recruiting. Brad is also the co-founder of IMPACT HIRING SOLUTIONS and co-author of “You’re NOT the Person I Hired: A CEO’s Guide to Hiring Top Talent.” For more information on Brad’s hiring training programs or speaking, please visit

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